Course taken by Liam Ward and Rohan Spong.
Yay. This is good. I'm actually excited for this.
In the lecture Liam aimed to distinguish what we would learn this semester from what we did previously, as we were focussing on documentary, which was Liam and Rohan's forte. They found (in the course) that putting documentary after drama was very productive as people then tended to make more substantial documentaries, as people would have already learnt many things about filmmaking from Film-TV 1, but also because many media students do cinema studies and would have just finished a semester of True Lies.
Based on a True Story
"If a writer had come up with the idea for this story it would be dismissed as too weird, too unbelievable. But truth is stranger than fiction..."
"It is funny how things work in your head. Fiction becomes fact."
An interesting point when looking at the past was that there wouldn't have been mobile phones or the ease of communication that we have today. No one could tweet about the robbery or put photos on facebook or anything - you would have felt incredibly isolated and alone. The fact that the manager just happened to be on the phone to a bank executive was very lucky in getting the police there quickly.
Another point made in watching this film was the difficulty the filmmaker faced in accessing the subject, John 'The Dog'. In documentary, everything can be out of your control - John's demands for more money and his elusiveness making it impossible to integrate interviews with him into the film.
In the film, they superimposed and connected photos from the robbery into the scene from today, which made it quite beautiful.
Notes for our own films
What types of subjects, focuses and stories would work well in a short-film format (4-7 minutes?)
How does sound contribute to documentary? (This can be vastly different from drama.)
Documentary is first and foremost structured around argument, rather than narrative. However, films need structure - a beginning, middle and end.
As filmmakers, we're looking for things that will 'draw people in' - that 'special substance' that will make people want to sit through your film.
There is a lot of improvisation and flexibility with documentary. This tends to mean that the shoot is going to be longer, as you can't just write the script and get what you need. It's very hard to plan how hard the shoot's going to take, and sometimes you can only realise what the story actually is when you're editing it, and then find the holes and the gaps you need to fill.
There is an intense amount of research and development involved. You have to get out and find the story, and you can't just write it up and shoot it - it's out there somewhere.
Grierson described documentary as the "creative treatment of actuality". How far can we go with pushing the creative boundaries until the line between fiction and fact is blurred?
One thing Liam wants us to avoid this year is mockumentaries. I do like the mockumentary format, when it's done well. However, if we're doing a course on documentary then it's better to stick to the truth, rather than something that's scripted.
Documentary is a rich and varied form, which can be:
- dramatised (this is interesting. I didn't realise we would be able to do this for the course - although it does make sense.)
Most of these were explored in True Lies, which means I have a lot to think about before we have to submit story ideas. At the moment I'm actually kind of blank.
Importantly, they want us to learn by doing, filling us up with knowledge and letting us take what we want from it, and work out our own direction. Another step that we're focus on again is collaboration (sadly, a concept that makes me think, "Oh, shit" right now, due to some of the things we faced last semester - although I'm hoping that everything will be okay...)
We're doing blog posts again this semester (hopefully I stay on top of it this time around) and we need to write about our thoughts, experience, knowledge and learning regarding collaboration, technical skills, development of ideas and pre-production, and the dossier. (Oh! Something to do in my four-hour gap at uni every Monday instead of heading out for lunch or cheap $8 movies at Greater Union.)
They also want us to reflect on our process of growth as a filmmaker. I think I'd like to do this by putting up a video blog every week. I did one yesterday, before uni, but it was quite sooky.
This year's theme:Language
This could involve a range of things. Typography, Architecture (?), Music, People who speak multiple languages...
Here are some of my other ideas about this:
- People who are obsessed with books (such as Harry Potter) and write fan-fiction etc
- People with dyslexia
- Swearing (and the new no-offensive language rule)
- Gender pronouns and sexist language